For an EU capital, Bucharest is not the most tourist-oriented of cities. Finding Romexpo was quite an adventure and then finding the venue within Romexpo was quite a mini-adventure. The biggest procentege of the crowd waiting at the gates was pretty much what you would call standard Placebo fans: girls ranging from 14 to 18, wearing black and goth make-up, but looking very happy and excited. Of course, by the time access was allowed, a more “square”-looking audience started to show up. There was a bit of a delay, a bit of waiting in the sun, but there always is. While Expatriate’s crew were making final preparations, a DJ entertained the in-coming people with some well-suited indie classics.
Placebo took the stage as the sun was setting and, no hello’s, no how are you’s, kicked off with perfect opener Kitty Litter. Setlist-wise, it was a standard non-festival Placebo date, circa summer of 2009. Still, for such a madding crowd, it could have just as well been an acoustic cover session of Barbra Streisand’s hits, the fans were that pleased to see their idols. Ashtray Heart was next and only after that, Molko greeted the public and announced that they will be playing a few songs from their new album. Battle for the Sun, despite its many lyrics, was well-known by the audience. All tracks were, new or old. At the end of the title track, before Molko moaned acapella “I will battle for the sun”, he took a break and demanded more and more noise from the audience. Some decibels records in human shouting must have been broken that night, because the sound was deafening, almost in a scary way. Molko’s big smile to his guitar-master, when changing instruments for the next song, prooved that the facts immediately sank in: Placebo is owning this crowd. Bands always talk about the exchange of energy in concerts. Sunday night, in Bucharest, this phenomenon was as visible as it can be. All rock’n'roll moves and postures were checked by the frontman, with his Fenders finding themselves between his legs on several occasions. Drummer Steve Forrest “broke” concert rules and catapulted his sticks into the sea of raised hands, after finishing certain songs, not just at the end of the show.
There were also some funny moments. Stefan Olsdal had some difficulties with the beginning of Speak in Tongues, fixed after changing “weapons”. Molko ironically commented: “Sometimes, guitars play all the wrong notes”. When presenting the band, he named Olsdal “the queen of Sweden” and Olsdal responded by calling Molko his “drama queen”. Towards the end of Black Eyed, the frontman signaled the need of cancer-stick to one of his tech-guys. Of course, a rain of cigarette packs, coming from the public, landed on stage (accompanied at one point by a bra, that is now probably a part of Placebo’s Tour Treasure… Chest). He lighted before Happy You’re Gone saying: “It’s fantastic to be in a country where you can smoke on stage. Where we come from, in the UK, they’re slowly taking away every piece of freedom we have left. So, it’s great to be amongst you filling our lungs together”. This might NOT make a good anti-smoking add. After Song to Say Goodbye, Placebo said good night, but it was obvious that this is not the end. The first encore was Infra-Red and Sleeping with Ghost‘s hit, The Bitter End. They closed the night with the classic Taste in Men, sounding more massive than ever. The band left the stage in an impressive roar of admiration from the mesmerized crowd. Steve Forrest left with his own little piece of “treasure”: a pair of pants, thrown on stage by some really desperate-to-be-remembered fan.
The night wasn’t over quite yet. A group of fans situated in the left side of the stage spotted Placebo’s backstage lodgings and cheered them out of there for an impromptu autograph session. This clearly wasn’t any promo duty for them, just a way of saying “thank you” in a more upfront personal way. Brian Molko was smiling all throughout the signing, but Steve Forrest seemed to be really having the time of his life. He was hugged and kissed and patted on the back and made pictures with anyone asking. He even graduated magna cum laude from the rock’n'roll stardom baptism of giving an autograph on a lady’s chest. Live ”sidekicks” Fiona Brice, Nick Gavrilovich and veteran Billy Lloyd joined the fun, as well as the members of Expatriate. Placebo’s longtime manager, Alex Weston, was also there overseeing the interactions and making sure everybody got their autograph. It was the perfect ending of a perfect night. After such a mind-blowing response, there is no doubt that Placebo will return to Romania. If not in the following two years, they will surely make a stop when promoting their now-unborn future album.